Welcome back to another installment of Indie Comics Showcase, the weekly blog where we signal boost a few truly independent comics that are currently crowdfunding their projects, crowdsourcing their funding in some way, or just completely self-publishing on their own. Every little bit of support for these creators matters, from a single dollar pledge to the twenty-five dollar bundle, and of course the higher tiers are usually fun too! Even if you can’t back a campaign or buy a book, you can share or tweet about these projects to your friends and followers.
On Indie Comics Showcase, we interview the creators, show off some art, and tell you how you can check out the product for yourself. Below we have some outstanding crowdfunding campaigns this week for you to learn about, enjoy, and hopefully support by backing one or more of them! Thanks for checking these out and for being the best part of Indie Comics Showcase. Let’s jump in!
Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron
by Alexander Macris
Check out the crowdfunding campaign here!
Chris Braly: Welcome to Indie Comics Showcase, Alexander. Give me a brief description for Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron!
Alexander Macris: Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron is a 96-page full-color graphic novel that introduces a new universe of iconic heroes. It is set in the same world as my #1 bestselling Ascendant role-playing game, which I published last year.
CB: So where did the idea for this comic come from, and made you decide to self-publish it?
AM: Ascendant originated with a question: “What if superhumans emerged in the real world in the present day?” They’d be terrified if it was presented as “humans of mass destruction.” Now, the real world in the present day is filled with genre-savvy fans of escapist fiction, but most storytellers don’t want to seriously deal with that. But comics and movies have conditioned people to accept superheroes as good guys. What if the government took advantage of that? What if they had superhuman soldiers positioned as comic book heroes? Robert Kirkman says “no one inside The Walking Dead has seen a Romero movie.” Everyone inside Ascendant has seen a Marvel movie and they act accordingly. Superheroes in Ascendant are hyperstitions — they are ideas that have brought about their own reality.
hat kind of comic readers is this suited for and who is it aimed at? —
AM: I call Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron an “Iridium Age” comic. It fuses the extreme aesthetic of heavy metal with the iconic mythology of superheroes. American Eagle is a hero straight out of a 1950s Silver Age comic. Stiletto is a bad girl straight out of a 1990s Heavy Metal magazine or Image comic. The book is about both.
Since Star-Spangled Squadron is set in the real world of the 21st century, it couldn’t be as wholesome as a CCA comic book. We live in a world where sex and violence are ubiquitous. But that doesn’t mean that we need to be nihilistic in our portrayal of our world. The world today is a dark place, but heroes still exist. The good, the beautiful, and the true still exist. And we should show that. Star-Spangled Squadron does show that. It doesn’t pretend the world is just black and white, but it doesn’t pretend that everything is shades of grey, either.
So who is the book for? It’s for people that know we live in clown world but still want to see the good, the beautiful, and the true in that world. It’s for comic book readers who don’t want their expectations subverted — they want their expectations met, and maybe even exceeded.
CB: Tell us about your style and creative process, and how you developed them —
AM: I often describe my creative process as ‘channeling the Logos.’ I do my best work in the middle of the night. I start concentrating and the creativity flows as if from an external source. Later when I review the material I often don’t remember writing it. Then I go through a very painful process of editing that typically takes me three or four times longer than it took to write it.
I’m not sure how I would describe my style. My favorite comic writer is Frank Miller, and his style has certainly influenced me.
CB: Tell us about your creative team.
AM: Jeff Palumbo, who owns Spinwhiz Comics, introduced me to David Campiti, who runs Glass House Graphics, a studio and agency for comic book creators. David, in turn, helped me recruit my art team. He also co-wrote the first chapter and helped edit the book.
Mel Joy San Juan and Jinky Coronado did the concept art for the characters. Both Mel Joy and Jinky are Filipino women with a very sleek sexy style that blends western and manga elements. Mel Joy did the pencils and inks for the entire book. Jay David Ramos colored chapters 2 and 4, while Rohvel Yumul colored chapters 1 and 3. Then Kathryn Renta did a bang-up job on lettering and layout. I really made Kathryn suffer because I turned into a micro-managerial caricature of Stanley Kubrick as we neared finish. “The kerning on this speech balloon…” Somehow she made it all come together.
The whole thing was done virtually over email and discord — I’ve never actually met or spoken to anyone else on the team!
CB: What have you been learning from self-publishing / crowdfunding and creating through this process? —
AM: I’m an old hand at publishing and crowdfunding. I have written over a dozen books and crowdfunded and published most of them. But this is my first graphic novel. So my real learning was in terms of the learning the art of writing for comics. I was very fortunate to have David Campiti as a coach and mentor, and to have a very patient team of artists working with me.
CB: Let’s get back to the campaign. What can backers get?
AM: The book will be available with four covers: patriotic, manga, racy, and cosplay. Will Conrad did our patriotic cover. Jinky did our racy cover. Mel Joy did the manga cover. The fourth cover features Austrian model Elisa Albrich cosplaying as Stiletto. As IndieGoGo exclusives, we’ll also be offering the racy cover with foil overly and offering a sketch cover with a black & white manga-style interior. We’re also offering an early bird special for collectors who want all four covers and a number of premium bundles with loads of goodies.
CB: It looks great. Any final words for our readers?
AM: Everyone should be able to find comics they enjoy — but not everyone has to enjoy every comic. The beauty of the independent comic scene is that we can offer choice to people who aren’t getting what they want from the main publishers. I hope that some of you want the sort of story I’m telling and enjoy Ascendant: Star-Spangled Squadron.
Check out the crowdfunding campaign here!
by Joshua Estes
Get your copy here.
Chris Braly: Tell me your elevator pitch for Little Sally, Joshua.
Joshua Estes: A little girl is brought back to life by the “balance” after being murdered. With the help of her stuffed teddy bear (Ted) and unicorn (Uni), they are tasked with taking down those that harm children to bring back the balance of light and dark. So far it is on issue 5 with a total of 135 pages, with 15 more issues to go. The art is in black, white, and grey with a splash of red and green to represent the “grey” line she walks between good and evil.
CB: Where did the idea for this comic come originate?
JE: I first got this idea back in college (2003-2006) of a little innocent looking girl that turns into a demon to kill evil people that harm children. It was heavily inspired by the Spawn villain Billy Kincaid. I had never seen an antihero that just took on villains that were harming just children like Billy Kincaid, so that’s when I came up with Little Sally. Do to life and money, it is just easier to do this story on my own. The first 5 issues are ready to read on Kindle, paperback, and on the Global Comix App.
CB: Who is this comic going to appeal to the most?
JE: This story is for those that like antiheroes like The Crow, Spawn, and The Punisher.
CB: So break down your creative style and creative process, and how you developed them. Do you work with a full team?
JE: Just me, myself, and I. I sit and draw when I have the time to. This is my first time writing out a comic book and so far people seem to be happy with it. My series was in the “Most Read of 2021” horror category on the Global Comix App. I first start with a rough idea in a sketchbook. Once I have the story and panels down, I go to final art. Unlike some artists, I do the pencils, inks and colors on the same page.
I think what makes this unique, is that I am the only one working on it. I have seen other indie books with a team, but not many done by one person. I even make the trailers with my own music as well.
CB: Tell me what you’ve been learning from self-publishing through this creative process.
JE: There is a lot of indie creators out there. I also feel like indie comics will be the way of the future, seeing how things are going on over at the big publishers.
CB: Any plans beyond this book? Are there more stories to tell? —
JE: Once the 20 issues are done, I feel like that will be the end of the Little Sally story. If I can get her into other media like a videogame, cartoon, or movie, that would be amazing.
CB: Thanks for chatting with me, Joshua!
Get your copy here.
SHARK OF WAR #5
by Ben Lacy
Back the campaign here!
Chris Braly: Welcome back to Indie Comics Showcase, Ben! Get our readers up to speed on Shark of War!
Ben Lacy: Shark of War is Jaws meets Robocop. It’s Jaws if the shark were the hero and Robocop if the cop were a shark. He’s an escaped US military experiment on the loose in Caribbean enforcing the law as he sees fit. When he starts causing problems for a powerful crime cartel, they hire his creator to make even more dangerous creatures.
Shark of War is a 5 issue full color comic series, with each installment between 28 and 32 interior pages. With issue 5, the current storyline is complete. All 5 issues are available both in physical comics and digital.
CB: Let’s go back to the beginning. Where did you come up with the idea for this comic?
BL: When The Meg came out at the theaters, I was surprised how well it did. It was pretty much the same shark movie we’d seen before, but with better special effects. I wondered what I might do differently, and that’s when I got the idea for the shark to be the hero. I originally planned it to be a short sci-fi story, but soon realized that it would work better as a comic book.
CB: What kind of comic readers are you aiming at?
BL: Fans of big sci-fi themes, Jaws, Robocop, Predator, Alien, and darker superheroes such as The Punisher.
CB: Describe your creative process, and how you you like to work.
BL: I’m not a trained artist, but I’m very good with a computer so I learned to use several digital modeling/art programs to create the unique look and feel of the story. Even though I’m doing my own art, I still write a script both for the letterer and to track how the book should flow. I’d written the entire five issue arc before I did much of the artwork and updated it as I’d go along as I better understood what worked and what didn’t.
CB: So do any other creators contribute to Shark of War?
BL: I do everything but the lettering and some of the covers. I use Nikki Powers for the lettering which is very important for this book because while the Shark of War doesn’t speak, we can follow his thoughts and the thoughts of the AI that’s been implanted in his brain to control him. Their interaction is a major part of the story and the lettering has to clearly let you know which one we’re hearing from.
I’ve started to bring on more outside cover artists. This time I have two awesome covers by J.C. Grande showing devastating shark action plus I have a cool pin-up style cover of series heroine Marisa by Eduardo Guzman Wilson.
CB: Tell me something you’ve been learning from self-publishing and crowdfunding and creating through this process?
BL: That it’s hard. You have to build your audience piece by piece. Kickstarter and Indiegogo will help spread the word a little, but at the end of the day, you have to be selling your concept, your story, and yourself to cut thru all the din.
CB: What’s next? Are there more stories to tell?
BL: These five issues form a complete storyline with a definite conclusion, but I do have at least two spinoff ideas and there is a possibility of a sequel to the current book.
CB: Nice. Any last words or anything else you’d like to share with our readers, Ben?
BL: I’ve spent almost 3 years to bring about this complete story. I hope you’ll check it out. The campaign has some of the coolest perks, including shark tooth fossil necklaces (you will want one) and the Shark of War plushie (your kid will want one). And all early backers get an exclusive print from Ukrainian artist Anton Polkhovskyi of the Shark of War battling Putin.
Your readers can check out issue #1 free at BitingComics.com.
CB: Thanks Ben!
Back the campaign here!
That’s it for this installment. If you’re a creator ramping up your own campaign or have a comic available for purchase online and you want to be featured in our weekly column, click here. And follow Indie Comics Showcase on Twitter at @Indie_Comics and reach out to them for more eyes on YOUR crowdfunding comic project. Until next time, support indie comics!